The most important part of your computer is the data that is stored on it. Sadly, most people don't give their data much thought until it is too late.

Hardware can be replaced and software can be reinstalled, but priceless data that is lost is gone forever. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to save your data. If you do not have your data backed up, you should start today with these four simple steps.

Step 1: Organize your data By default, most programs save all your data in your My Documents folder. However, there are some that save data to other folders. You need to know where the programs are putting the information or change where that information is stored.

Step 2: Plan for back up Once you have everything organized, institute a back up plan. There are many different media types that store data, such as 3 1/2 floppy disks, USB thumb drives, CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-R/RW, 2nd internal hard drives, external hard drives, tape drives, 2nd computers, network drives, and online backups. Choose the storage method that is most affordable and convenient for you.

Step 3: Choose automatic or manual back up Make your plan as simple as possible; the harder you make it, the less likely you'll follow through. Back ups can be made automatically or manually. Automatic back ups can be made through Windows or third party programs. This is the easiest method. Manual back ups are made by simply making copies of your data. This method works best when only small amounts of data are present.

Step 4: Test your back up You need to check your back ups occasionally to make sure that the files are viable and that the original file can be restored from the backup file.

It is very important that you back up your data. If you would like any help instituting a back up plan, please feel free to contact me. I can assist you in developing a plan that is affordable and practical for your lifestyle.